RITUAL . YEE SANG
When I think of Chinese New Year rituals, the first thing that comes to mind is Yee Sang, also known as Lo Hei or the Yusheng Prosperity Toss. Traditionally the salad consists of strips of raw fish, mixed with shredded vegetables and an array of sauces and toppings, each assigned a meaning, intention or wish for the year to come.
It's a lovely ritual that any family can imbue with their own meanings and intentions for the year. It's also a whole lot of fun. Once you have added the ingredients, blessing them as you go, the idea is to use chopsticks to ‘toss up good fortune’. Many believe that the higher the toss the greater the fortune and there is nothing like families throwing food into the air to elicit peals of laughter. To ritualise Yee Sang this is what we do.
There are plenty of pre-packaged options on the supermarket shelves, but our favourite comes from Soup Restaurant in Singapore.
The salad will come with all the ingredients separated. Before you start your meal, everyone gathers around the table and one person takes on the role of facilitating the intentions by mindfully adding each ingredient into the mix and speaking the blessing. You can adapt the words to better align to your intentions and self-expression.
- First add the raw fish, a symbol of abundance and prosperity and say "May you have abundance all year and every year"
- Add the pomelo or lime segments, a representation of luck and say "May we always experience good luck and opportunity"
- Add the shredded white radish, a symbol for career success and say “May we feel fulfilled by our work and be rewarded well for our effort”
- Add the shredded green radish, a symbol for eternal youth and say “May we always feel youthful and full of vitality”
- Add the shredded carrot, a symbol for good luck and say, “May we live our lives blessed by luck!’
- Sprinkle the crushed peanuts, a symbol of material wealth, over the salad and say “May our homes always attract positive energy, wealth and abundance”
- Sprinkle the sesame seeds, a symbol for business success, over the salad and say “May our ventures and businesses flourish”
- Add the spices, often cinnamon and pepper and say “May we always feel protected and live with passion”
- Add the pillow shaped crisps, a representation of wealth through their colour and shape and say “May the path that we walk be laid in gold!’
- Drizzle the oil over the salad in a circular motion and say “May prosperity come to us from all directions”
- Drizzle the plum sauce over the salad in a circular motion and say “May all our wishes be bound and may be always feel grateful to have each other”.
- Standing around the salad, everyone uses their chopsticks to toss the salad, lifting the ingredients high into the air and saying “Lo Hei” – lets toss to good fortune.
Rituals that create shared experiences help forge a sense of belonging and connection. When people come together to share in ritual they feel as one, which in turn reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. It’s a medicine we can all enjoy and share. So this Chinese New Year, invite families and friends to come together and welcome greater abundance and prosperity for each other by throwing food and your intentions into the air.